Portland police say they have found no connection between the deaths of six women found dead in remote wooded areas within a 100-mile radius over a three-month period.
The women, aged 22 to 32, were found between February 19 and May 7 this year, prompting claims from internet sleuths that a serial killer was on the loose.
The cases are being investigated by five different law enforcement agencies, at least three of which have said they are cooperating with others to determine if the cases may be related.
But over the weekend, in part in an effort to pour cold water on rumors circulating on social media, the Portland Police Department clarified that there is currently no known connection between the cases.
“We would like to provide assurances that the speculation is not supported by the facts currently available,” the department said Sunday. “While any premature death is a cause for concern… (Portland Police Department) has no reason to believe that these 6 cases are related.”
The six female victims were found within three months within a 100-mile radius of Portland, Oregon. From top left to top right, then bottom left to bottom right: Kristin Smith; Joanna speaks; Charity Perry; unknown woman; Bridget Webster; Ashley really
“If we discover an obvious danger, we will inform the public about it,” the department added.
Internet sleuths have speculated that some of the murders may be related, while others are alarmed that the investigative agencies (so far) have not come right out to say that the cases are not known to be connected.
Authorities found most of their bodies in wooded or remote rural areas not far from Portland.
Most recently, on May 7, the body of 22-year-old Ashley Real was found in a heavily wooded area near Eagle Creek. The young woman was last seen in March.
Another victim, 32-year-old JoAnna Speaks, was found in a shed of an abandoned property in Ridgefield, about 22 miles north of Portland.
She died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck and her death was declared homicide.
Speaks’ sister, Robin, spoke out about her brother’s murder, saying that “an awful lot of women are dying.”
“Women need to pay attention and they need to know that there are dangers and they are clearly taking the lives of people we love,” she added.
JoAnna was a recovering drug addict and mother of three who was found dead in early April.
Most of the dead women were found in remote rural areas or in the woods around Portland
The last body to be found was that of Ashley Real, 22. Her remains were spotted May 7 by a fisherman in a heavily wooded area in Eagle Creek. She was last seen on surveillance footage at a fast food restaurant on March 27 (right)
On April 24, police found the bodies of an unidentified Native American or Alaskan woman (left behind in a computer-generated image). Charity Perry (right) was also found that same day
Mother of three Joanna Speaks, left, was found dead in a barn. Her body had been moved there after she was killed, and she died from a blunt head injury. Right, Bridget Leann Ramsey Webster, 31, who was found dead on April 30
Kristin Smith, 22, was found on Feb. 19. She had been missing since December
Police have also said her body was moved to the shed where she was found after she was killed.
The other victims: Bridget Leann Ramsey Webster, 31; Charity Lynn Perry, 24; Kristin Smith, 22; and an unidentified woman found several miles from Smith’s body were all found within 100 miles of each other, sparking communal unrest in the area.
At this point, only one of the cases is being investigated as murder. Four are being investigated as suspicious deaths, and in one of the cases, police say no foul play was involved.
In some cases, the police refuse to release additional information for fear of jeopardizing the investigation.